Teen Voices: A Summer Reading Almost Everything That Isn’t In My Amazon Queue

In my first week interning as an editorial assistant at Teen Voices, a magazine created exclusively by and for teenage girls (www.teenvoices.com/), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Copy of the most recent print magazine

I came hoping to do some work that intersected with my major (Gender and Sexuality Studies) and about 20 books related to the subject to fill in the gaps in case I found myself doing more copy-editing or organizing than I had hoped.  Well, most of those books remain untouched because I found myself completely immersed in editing an article about virginity.  Thankfully, one of the books I had brought was Hanne Blank’s history of the topic.

I have gotten more of an education on teen girls’ ideas about issues related to their gender, sex, and sexuality than I ever expected.  After spending almost two weeks working with the article about virginity, I moved to a passionate piece about why the media creates vagina shame at the same time that a representative in Michigan was banned for daring to say the word ‘vagina’ in her speech.  And then Eve Ensler led a performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues” on the steps of the same statehouse from which the representative was banned.  For more on this, you can read: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/eve-ensler-michigan-vagina-monologues_n_1608677.html

Needless to say, it was an exciting time to be at the magazine and to be editing the particular article.

And recently, only a week after Teen Voices published an interview (www.teenvoices.com/2012/06/25/teen-activists-take-on-seventeen/) with the teen activists petitioning Seventeen magazine to include images of girls that hadn’t been digitally altered–the magazine, after initially dismissing the petition, actually listened.  Two 14-year-old girls and the 85,000 others who signed their petition changed the history of one of the most profitable, established teen magazines in America.  This announcement, made only three days ago, makes me honored to be doing anything affiliated with Teen Voices and these girls who have been inspiring me on a daily basis.

Julia Bluhm, Izzy Labbe, and other SPARK activists doing a mock photo-shoot on the steps of Seventeen's national office

So my internship obviously isn’t all grand announcements and editing articles about vaginas (though the latter is a pretty good description of what I do some days).  I read and organize all the submissions girls send in every day, from all over the world, to try to get published in our print or online magazine.  I transcribe interviews, which is both tedious and amazing when I think about the women whose words I get to hear and type..and hear and type…and rewind…Still, I’m one of the few people who probably looks forward to getting an audio file to transcribe.  And, when I think about the names of the women in my inbox, feminists who I’ve admired and read and imagined speaking with for years, I kind of freak out.  I need approximately an hour before I have the mental/emotional/physical ability to open an e-mail from a woman who is suddenly just a name in my HaverMail as opposed to a God(or Goddess)-like figure.

Also, I’ve written my own blog post for the magazine (so forgive me if this blog is horrible because I just finished putting my energy into writing that one) on what’s going on around the policing of femininity at the 2012 Olympics.  If you can stand another blog from me, you can find that here at: teenvoicesmagazine.wordpress.com/ Because a lot of the interns lament our lost youth on a daily basis (and by youth I mean teen years), we have the separate platform of the magazine’s blog to ensure that Teen Voices stays true to its original message while still allowing those of us who love to write an opportunity to do so.

This is my first experience working in journalism, publishing, and the non-profit sector.  I’m certain it won’t be the last on any of those counts.  I have an inbox full of e-mails from youth LGBTQ groups about their experiences at Pride festivals around the country that I still need to turn into yet-another blog.  I have another article dealing with vaginas to edit.

And, in two weeks, I start the second half of my internship: mentoring three teenage girls, working intensely with them for five weeks to produce an article to be published in the Spring print magazine.  While also managing the rest of my day-to-day work.

I certainly won’t be making a lot of progress in my next shipment of Amazon books on queer theory, and that doesn’t bother me in the least.

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